The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is targeting to energize until next year some 3,000 more households in various poor and off-grid communities in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) through solar power.
TESDA Director General, Secretary Isidro Lapeña, said on Tuesday they are currently working on the expansion of its flagship Project TALA, or “TESDA Alay ay Liwanag at Asenso” to more remote and marginalized sitios in parts of the region.
He said the target areas include indigenous peoples’ communities as well as sitios and barangays previously influenced by the New People’s Army and were not reached by government services for a long time.
Since last year, Lapeña said the program has already benefited some 275 households in Sitio Blit, Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, and Sitio Dalhag, Barangay Manobo in Magpet, North Cotabato.
“These households are now enjoying solar power and lighted meal(s) at night after living without a source of light for decades,” he said in a virtual post-SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address) press conference.
Aside from receiving solar power systems, Lapeña said the household beneficiaries have also benefited from livelihood training and other support initiatives from their partner agencies.
Sitios Blit and Dalhag were chosen by TESDA last year as pilot areas of Project TALA, which aims to provide solar energy to geographically isolated villages where regular electricity distribution lines have not yet reached.
The initiative is aligned with the national government’s efforts to deliver basic services and transform communities previously influenced by the communist New People’s Army through the “whole-of-nation” approach as provided for in Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The agency, in coordination with its partners, trained residents in these areas on photovoltaic (PV) system installation and maintenance and provided them with complete PV system kits after finishing the course.
The PV system kits included a solar panel, solar charge controller, storage battery, two bulbs (3 watts and 5 watts), wirings, switches, junction box, electrical tapes, and screws.
Rafael Abrogar II, TESDA-Region 12 director, said they are currently finalizing the implementation of the project in the neighboring communities of Sitio Blit covering some 650 more households.
He said they have also started the profiling of more than 2,000 target households in 14 barangays and sitios in the region.
The proposed sites were recommended by local government units, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police, he said.
“We will be expanding, later on, to cover more than 20 barangays since we’re continually receiving requests from various stakeholders,” Abrogar said. (PNA)